ISL senior scientists Drs Mrinalini Erkenswick Watsa, Gideon Erkenswick Watsa, and Caroline Moore have collaborated with a team of international researchers led by Dr. Jacqueline Gerson to understand the impact of mercury used in artisanal or small-scale gold mining (ASGM) on ecosystems both close to and far away from ASGM published in Nature Communications.
This is particularly important for ISL’s first hub at the Los Amigos Conservation Concession, a protected piece of land where we have sampled from thousands of animals, including but not limited to, three species of primates (L. weddelli, S. imperator, and P. brunneus), at least 59 species of birds in 21 families, eleven genera of bats, seven genera of rodents, five genera of marsupials, and one genera of rabbit.
That’s right, Los Amigos Conservation Concession had the highest levels of mercury in throughfall recorded anywhere in the globe. And this intense mercury burden in the forest seemed to have translated to the songbirds, which have 2-12 times higher mercury stored in their feathers compared to birds at Cocha Cashu, a protected forest upstream in Manu National Park.
We are expanding this work by curating mercury data across species and time tested in feathers and fur at the Los Amigos Biological Station Wildlife Conservation Laboratory. This testing is being done at site with training of the laboratory’s Peruvian scientists.